Tackling the Twin Epidemics of Obesity and Diabetes — Eneida Roldan

Point of View
4 min readJun 15, 2023
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

The prevalence of obesity and diabetes has become a significant public health concern worldwide, with an alarming increase in both conditions over the past few decades. More than 2 billion adults worldwide are overweight or obese, making obesity a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. The link between these two conditions has led to a public health crisis that demands urgent attention and action from individuals, communities, and policymakers.

At the Florida International University Law and Greenberg Traurig conference on Innovation, Regulation & Litigation: The Role of Courts in a Public Health Crisis, I was joined by FIU Law’s Manuel Gomez and Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton’s Maria Garcia in a discussion moderated by GT’s Nicole Narotzky to address Obesity and Diabetes: Novel Liability Theories and the Lawsuits that May Lie Ahead. During our conversation, we identified some of the challenges the healthcare industry faces. Here are a few takeaways.

Doctors define obesity by a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) — their weight in relation to height — being 30 kg/m2 or higher. Multiple health issues are associated with the condition in addition to diabetes. Being overweight leads to an increased risk of hypertension, cancer, and depression, as well as other complications.

The CDC’s study on adult obesity in the U.S. shows that obesity impacts some groups more than others. There are notable differences by race and ethnicity, with Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans more affected than others.

The recommended treatments for obesity include behavior modification, diet and exercise, medication, and surgery. In 2019, the costs of annual obesity-related medical care in the U.S. were estimated to be nearly $173 billion. Annual nationwide productivity costs of obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per individual with obesity) and $6.38 billion ($132 per individual with obesity).

The CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report indicates that 37.3 million people in the U.S. — 11.3% of the population — have diabetes. Of these, 28.7 million have been diagnosed while 8.5 million have not. That means that nearly 23% of adults with diabetes are undiagnosed.

The number of adults with prediabetes in the U.S. is even higher — 96 million people or 38% of the population. For those 65 years or older, the percentage increases to 48.8%. Smoking, physical inactivity, A1C level, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity all contribute to a greater risk for diabetes-related complications.

The detrimental effects of obesity and diabetes extend beyond the individual, affecting families and society as a whole. The increased risk of chronic diseases, disability, and premature death not only impacts healthcare systems and economies but also has an emotional toll on loved ones. Addressing and preventing these conditions through education, healthy lifestyle choices, and medical interventions is crucial in mitigating their impact and promoting overall well-being. It is important to recognize the seriousness of these health issues and work towards creating a healthier future for all.

About Eneida Roldan: Eneida is a dynamic physician leader, a vibrant teacher and mentor, and a dedicated board member with service on an array of for-profit and not-for-profit boards. She has held executive positions in a full range of health care settings, including private and public hospitals, academic medical centers, and entrepreneurial medicine in the field of wellness and health promotion. She is passionate about advocating for diverse women in leadership positions and providing strategic solutions to improve business efficiency and effectiveness, while ensuring inclusive healthcare to all. Her most recent accomplishment has been providing crisis management throughout the pandemic to the Miami community.

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